Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ethan's Backstory


I was born in Sharn. Though perhaps it would be more accurate to say I was born in the belly of Sharn, below the glamour, below the dizzying heights. I was born in the depths, in the dank underbelly that is Khyber’s Gate. My mother was a whore, and though that description is harsh, it is at least accurate. As a child she would tell me that my father was a soldier, the next week he was a king, the week after that a dragonmarked heir. From a young age I learned that she was only good for two things; meager scraps of food and a roof to sleep under. Her clients would say she was only good for one thing, and I’m not completely sure about that.

Growing up in the Cogs, I learned to speak the language of the locals. Goblin. The language is dirty and disgusting, but learning it helped keep me alive. I learned to play, to get along, and most importantly to remain out of the spotlight. My assets were my speed and my strength. The other residents of note were the Warforged. Even back then I marveled at their strength, their tireless work ethic. I often wondered why they didn’t just rebel, they outnumbered their human masters. At least when the war ended the Warforged were all given their freedom. Granted most of them went back to what they’d always been doing. I just don’t understand it.

As a lad I would venture out of the cogs, looking for food. I never paid for anything, preferring to steal what I needed. When I was caught, I would be beaten. It was a reminder to be faster, to have more patience, to time my moves. As I grew older, I became more skilled. I was caught less.

When I was eleven, my mother met a new pimp, a Halfling named Mikal Talru. He moved us to lower Menthis. Mother was to be one of the ‘older girls’ at a bordello in the Firelight Ward. The air was better, the food better, but little else changed. I was unwanted. I continued living on the streets, running with street gangs. Life was hard, but I had all that I truly required; some food and somewhere to rest.

Sometime during my fourteenth summer things started to change. My mother was beaten to within an inch of her life by Mikal. Why, I’m not sure; maybe he thought she cheated him on some coin, maybe he was high, and perhaps he was just an evil man. I remember being enraged. Though as I look back on the event I’m not sure why. It’s not as though my mother had done anything other than give birth to me. She certainly hadn’t provided much for me in those last few years of my life. Perhaps I just had a shred of decency. However, I was a foolish and na├»ve young man. I took it upon myself to teach Mikal a lesson. I stalked him for 3 days and then made my move. I confronted him in an alley. I presented him with his wrongs and informed him why I was going to kill him. In the stories, this is how it was done. The hero confronts the villain, makes a grand speech and then slays him. I learned the hard way that stories are just that. Mikal beat me, then he beat me some more. Finally, he poured a healing draught down my throat and beat me again.

I managed to crawl back to my mother’s rooms later that night. She screamed as I staggered through the door. I stumbled and fell next to the bed. My vision was blurry and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mikal. A wicked grin carved on his face. I lay there as he walked toward my mother. I watched him beat her and then I watched him defile her. I was powerless to help and as I lay there on the brink of consciousness I vowed that I’d be stronger. Maybe not for my mother, but for the next victim. When Mikal had finished he walked over to me and crouched low. Pulling a dagger from the folds of his cloak he whispered “When you’ve the strength boy, use this dagger to end your wretched existence.” He glanced over his shoulder at my mother and continued, “use it on her as well. It’ll free the room up for a new girl.”

It seemed like hours later, but was most probably minutes; I managed to crawl toward my mother. I checked for signs of life and found none. I picked up Mikal’s dagger and gathered a few other meager possessions. A chapter had closed on my life. The lessons learned were enormous.

It took me two years. I was patient, I waited, bided my time. I watched his routines, looked for when he was vulnerable. Then I struck. No defiant words, just the dagger he left me to his throat. I made sure he could see me. I stood over him and watched the light fade form his eyes. When he was dead I turned and walked away. There was no sense of pride, no gratification. No elation after the kill. Just emptiness. The act I had committed, was cold and calculated. With Mikal dead, my purpose for living was over. I was a sixteen year old, homeless, uneducated, unemployed young man. So I did the only thing I knew. I stole food, coin, whatever it didn’t matter. I moved around a lot. I had no desire to join a guild, or of infringing on another’s territory. I dreamed of crossing the Sea and making my mark in Xen’drik. I just needed to save up. I thought briefly about joining the war effort, but knew I was no soldier. Fate however, had other plans for me.

To this day I’m not sure who he was, or who he worked for though I have my suspicions. All that mattered to me was he provided steady work and above average pay for someone in my position. All I had to do was follow certain people around, report on their movements, who they met, and of course not be observed. It was easy. This work went on for about a year before things turned. It seems one of my marks had picked up my trail and set an ambush for me. I dealt with him easy enough, left him dead in an alley. I stripped him of his possessions, poured some booze over him and left. I met my handler and passed the items on, minus the gold of course. That was the day before the Mourning. While I don’t believe my actions had anything to do with that fateful day it’s hard to separate the two events. The war ended shortly after that and with it my steady work.

Over the past few years I’ve worked some odd jobs down in the docks unloading freight. I’ve been a courier for House Sivis and Orien. Going into districts they’d rather not send their own people. About six months ago things started to change. I spotted an ad in the Inquisitive; a local guild was looking for loading dock help. I went to Clifftop right away, maybe this was my chance. I think I may have finally found my place, the work is steady. I spend my days cleaning stables and unloading Air Ships. Not what I’d envisioned for myself. But I already knew that stories of greatness, of the beggar becoming a hero were the stuff of fables that bards tell. I was happy to finally have a routine and a sense of belonging.

Ethan's Stat Block

4 comments:

Jay Vandendool said...

Excellent! Well done Neil!

Cave2626 said...

Great back-story. You've set the bar pretty high. I guess we can't just say that the other PCs are gathered around the table in the dark corner looking for adventure.

Curtis said...

A good read. I am curious to see how Ethan and Sterling get along. I'd imagine two people trying to find a place together in a world where they have few friends might find fast friendship

skallawag said...

Nice Neil! man, i have a lot of work to do